Contest wants students to incorporate innovation into greeting card design. Photo: Courtesy of the Office of the Vice-President, Research.

U of O calls for artists in seasonal card design

What do an engineer, a doctor, an artist, and a criminology student have in common? They’re all past winners of University of Ottawa’s annual greeting card design competition.

Every year, artists submit between fifty and seventy pieces of art to the U of O’s Office of Research, in hopes of winning the contest, which, for the past twelve years, has opened itself up to submissions from students from all faculties.

To compete, students are encouraged to submit up to three pieces, and a paragraph that describes how each work expresses the year’s theme. The winning artist’s piece is then featured on the cover of a greeting card, which is mailed to the university’s correspondents around the globe during the holidays, and guarantees the artist a $2,000 reward.

Considering the winning submissions from recent years, only one thing appears to unite them all—their difference. Over the years, the form of winning submissions has varied from paintings, to photography, to India Ink—with one piece even experimenting with recycled materials.

Monique Roy-Sole, a research communications specialist for the Office of the Vice-President, explained that it is not the imagery, but the theme that unites the artwork submissions.

“Our theme is innovation—that’s been the theme since the beginning of the contests,” Roy-Sole said. “The idea … is that by using the theme of innovation, (we are) bridging art and other disciplines. How well the student expresses innovation is the first criteria (for a winning piece).”

When the competition began, it was primarily entered, and won, by students in the Department of Visual Arts—however, as time has gone on, more and more students have begun to take interest.

Roy-Sole likes to think of the contest as a continuation of the university’s policy of encouraging participation in the arts—regardless of one’s major.

Roy-Sole points to the art installations in the newly opened STEM complex as another example of this on campus. “It really all comes back to the idea of uniting art and academic study,” she explained.

Indeed, some participants of the contest reflect this philosophy in their own lives. For instance, Alexandra Ruhr, the 2015 winner of the competition, was interested in the innovation in practices of art therapy, and its potential as a future form of psychiatric treatment.

“For me, art is a way to experience self-expression and to cope with the rigours of being a medical student,” she explained in the statement that accompanied her submission.

In fact, the founder of the contest herself, Mona Nemer, is now the Chief Science Advisor of Canada. Which returns itself to the founding dynamic of the competition—whether you are a student in arts, science, or any other discipline, you can show off your interpretation of innovation.

If you are interested in entering this year’s greeting card contest for a prize of $2,000, find out more details on the U of O’s website, before the Oct. 29 deadline.